Just like people, gardens need nutrients to grow and flourish. Incorporating garden compost into your garden allows you to feed your plants and vegetables and improve overall soil quality.
You can obtain ready prepared bags of garden compost from most garden nurseries or garden supply stores. Many garden supply companies and gardening websites offer an online service and will deliver. It is important that you choose the right garden compost for your soil and particular needs. Some plants and garden shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas require special ericaceous compost to make the soil more acid. While other garden compost is suitable for general use for vegetable and flower gardening.
The main advantage of using compost on your garden is to improve the soil structure. Good garden soil needs to be loose and be able to hold water but with adequate drainage. Clay soil can be very heavy, so adding garden compost will improve the structure and drainage. For soils that are sandy, garden compost will absorb water and improve the water-holding capacity of the soil.
As well as improving the structure and water retaining properties of soil, the decomposing compost will gradually release nutrients vital for healthy plant growth. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient in plant growth which can be obtained from garden compost. The use of adding manure as well as compost will ensure a good supply of nitrogen if growing highly productive crops.
For those who do not want to buy their garden compost, making your own compost in your garden has several advantages. Firstly, it allows the gardener to recycle garden wastes. This means less waste to have to dispose of. Secondly, you will know what has gone into your garden compost. So if you want to be an organic gardener, you will have control over what has gone into your compost.
When deciding on your home garden compost bin it is best to design it into your garden. Making a home compost can be made from ready made plastic drums which turn, to wooden enclosures made yourself or from kits ready to assemble. Having some sort of structure for your compost will save space and hasten decomposition. If you find that the thought of your compost bin may spoil the look of the garden, then garden screens can be useful to hide it from view.
When you have to dispose of garden waste those garden jobs can become harder. But with your own garden compost patch or bin, garden clearance becomes a whole lot easier. Most organic materials will decompose, but not all garden wastes should go into your home compost. Leaves, grass cuttings, non-woody plant trimmings can all be composted. If putting grass cuttings into your compost, it is advisable to mix with other garden waste to keep it aerated. Branches, logs or twigs greater than 1/4 inch thick should be put through a garden mulcher or shredder first, as they will not decompose fast enough.
Kitchen waste is a valuable addition to your compost. Wastes such as vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells make good compost. Some organic materials should not be added to your compost as they could create a health hazard. Pet waste should not be added nor should meat, bones or fat. Whole eggs and dairy products should also not be added as they attract rodents. Any plant that is diseased should be avoided in your compost. This is because although the temperature in the center of your compost may reach 140 degrees and kill off many diseases, you can not be sure that your compost has been sufficiently mixed to the center to reach this temperature. Using a garden incinerator to dispose of diseased plants will ensure the spread of disease is contained.
Once you begin to fill your compost bin, decomposition can take from six months to two years. The process can be sped up by mixing dry and wet materials and chopping or shredding waste as small as possible. The stage of decomposition will vary from top to bottom as you continually add more waste. The more finished compost will be found at the bottom of your bin and should be removed first.
The best system of composting is to have two bins on the go, one to add to and one for maturing. Remember that the site of your compost is important as you want it near enough to your area where it is to be used but not too close to your neighbours to be a nuisance. Once having set up your garden compost your garden will benefit from good quality garden compost to produce better plants, flowers or vegetables.
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Composting can be very simple, but before you get started, you’ll want to find the right composting technique for you. There is such a wide variety of different methods and techniques, some are simple while others are far more complicated. For many years composting had a bad reputation for generating smelly backyards and attracting critters, but good composting doesn’t smell and is really easy to perform.
Organic material will always decompose by itself, but if you can make it happen faster and use the nutritious material for your garden with very little effort, then you really can take advantage of making less trash.
Here are the following things to take into consideration before you begin composting.
Your Composting Site
The location of your compost pile should be:-
1. Check with your local council if there are any ordinances that will regulate where you can put your pile.
2. Convenient or at least fairly convenient in relation to the kitchen. If you are not going to want to keep your scraps in the kitchen at all, then you’ll need to get to your pile easily.
3. Have good drainage. You don’t want your compost pile to be soaked, so it should have a little drainage. If you are going to build or buy a composter that is off the ground, then this won’t be a problem, but for compost piles, drainage is vital.
4. Direct sunlight could dry your compost pile out, but generally speaking this can easily be overcome and the heat from the sun will help to keep your compost warm and working.
5. Remember that your pile will attract small bugs and ants, so keep that in mind when choosing your location.
Composing Bins and Containers
Is it really important to have a bin or a container? Of course this will keep your pile from spreading as they all do and will keep your composting contained. If you choose to invest in a bin, you will need to also invest in a pitch fork in order to turn your compost. Some of the composting barrels allow for turning using a winder, or you can buy ones that have motor, but that kind of expense is only worth it if you are composting on a commercial level.
Alternatives to a container or bin will include just fencing off a section of your garden using chicken wire. Wood crates are also very popular as they allow air to circulate. Both of these methods are easy to build, cost effective and work very well.
Hot or Cold Composting
Depending on your circumstances, you may decide to do either hot or cold composting. Cold composting is often referred to as ‘no turn’ composting as a result of you not having to work your pile. You only include organic material and leave it to do its own thing. Cold composting takes much longer to decompose.
Hot composting is far more popular because the decomposition takes place much faster and allows for more greens to be added. Green veggies and cuttings will produce more heat in your composting pile. A hot, active compost pile can and will produce good quality compost within three to four months. While a cold pile will take close to a year to produce the same.
If you decide on a hot pile and want to know what temperature is ideal, you can purchase a composting thermometer from your local garden store. For novices, this is an unnecessary expense and if you aim is to reduce your trash and composting is not about producing huge amounts of compost fast, then your compost heap will work fine at any temperature.
Your Composting Ingredients
Starting your compost pile means including a particular recipe of ingredients to get the balance right. The materials are broken into categories of which the most important being green and brown compost materials.
Information on Green Compost Materials:-
1. Green compost materials create heat. By including them you will increase the temperature of your compost pile.
2. They are derived from kitchen scraps, fruit and veggie peels, greens, green leaves and green cutting and clippings from garden.
3. They create odors. In order to prevent your compost pile from smelling you will want to either bury them sufficiently in the pile or to cover with brown compost material.
Information on Brown Compost Materials:-
1. Brown compost materials reduce heat and will slow your composting down.
2. They include dry leaves, hay, dry grass and straw as well as sawdust.
One of the best ways to start your compost pile is to do so in layers. You can start with leaves and grass cuttings, then add some soil and then put your kitchen scraps in. Then top again with leaves and soil and you may even decide to add manure. Other items to include in your compost pile will be coffee grounds, leaves, grass and manure. Do not include any meat or dairy product in your pile as this will cause rotting rather than decomposing and will attract rodents.
How Wet Should Your Pile Be?
The best way to describe how moist your pile should be is like a squeezed out sponge. If you don’t experience much rain, then sprinkle water on your pile every few days. If your pile gets too waterlogged, you will need to think about drainage or raising it. For a little treat once in a while, add a little beer to your pile. The yeast will reaction positively with the bacteria and will keep your pile healthy.
Airing and Turning Your Pile
In order to have a healthy composting pile, you will need to maintain it a little. Depending on your particular choice of pile, bin or container will reduce or increase the amount of maintenance it will need. A pile requires little maintenance, with just the occasional turning about once a week to improve the air circulation. Airing your pile will increase the decomposition process and is integral to the overall health of your compost. The bacteria and organisms that produce humus need air to live. The best way to turn and air your pile is done with a pitch fork.
When Is Your Compost Ready?
After a few months, you’ll want to know if your compost is ready. Humus looks like very dark soil and smells earthy. Now you are ready to use it in your garden to nourish your plants. There isn’t one single way to compost so whatever route you take, you can and will generate compost for your garden. With so many different options, you are sure to find the right one for you and your lifestyle and remember that at the end, you not only help to reduce landfill, but also produce humus, often referred to as garden gold.
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Have you heard of composting, but just aren’t sure what it means? Not sure why how compost can benefit you? If you haven’t started composting at home yet, now is the time! Home composting is more than just a growing trend among gardeners, it’s a great way to recycle your kitchen scraps and yard refuse into something you can use-compost!
So what is compost and why is it so beneficial? Compost is a fresh black material similar in appearance and texture to potting soil. It is produced naturally when organic material breaks down and decays (a process also known as composting). The resulting compost is rich in nutrients that plants love, making it one of the best types of fertilizer you can use. Compost, also known as black gold, can be tilled into the soil before trees, shrubs, or other plants are planted. It can also be applied to the soil around existing plants. Compost will help plants grow bigger, faster, and stronger than you ever thought possible.
Better yet, composting is a way to recycle! We all know that recycling is the right thing to do. The more items we can keep out of our landfills, the better. And after all, why throw away things that you can turn into valuable compost? Simple things like vegetable peelings, dead leaves from your trees, and plant clippings can all be turned into compost. It just makes sense to recycle these things into compost rather than throwing them away.
So how do you get started with home composting? Well, first you need to decide what type of composting you want to do. There are two basic types of composting, aerobic and anaerobic. Anaerobic composting refers to methods such as a compost pile. Compost piles are one of the easiest methods of composting. They require little effort and virtually no maintenance. Simply pick a spot in your yard (preferably far away from your house; keep reading and we’ll explain why) and begin a pile of the organic materials to be composted. Sounds easy, right? While anaerobic composting is easy, there are also some downsides. First is the length of time required. The microbes that break materials down in anaerobic composting are very inefficient. When you pile things up in a compost pile, it can take several years for them to fully break down and become finished compost. The second problem is the odor produced. Many people think of composting as a smelly process, and when it comes to anaerobic composting, they are correct. Anaerobic bacteria produce methane and sulfate gasses as a byproduct of the composting process, and these are gasses that we find very offensive and smelly.
Aerobic composting, on the other hand, is an entirely different process. Just like the name would suggest, aerobic composting requires oxygen, meaning that the organic materials being broken down must be aerated regularly. A compost pile can be mixed and turned regularly to encourage aerobic bacteria; however, this is often a difficult and labor-intense process. The easiest way to compost materials aerobically is to buy a compost tumbler. Compost tumbler bins are designed to be rotated, so that the aerobic microbes get the oxygen they need to create finished compost. In contrast to anaerobic bacteria, aerobic microbes are very efficient and quick. A compost tumbler, under the right temperature and moisture conditions, can usually produce finished compost within about 6 weeks. Even better yet, aerobic bacteria do not produce smelly gasses like anaerobic bacteria, meaning that aerobic composting is a virtually odorless process. Compost tumbler bins can be easily purchased through many online and mail order stores.
No matter what type of composting you decide on, home composting is still a great idea. Not only is composting good for the earth, it’s also great for your plants and garden. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of turning garbage and yard waste into something really valuable that you can use. Home composting isn’t just for master gardeners anymore, so what are you waiting for? Start composting today!
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There is a right way to compost, and there’s a better way to compost. The only wrong way to compost is to not do it at all.
I, too, was as guilty as many other gardeners who have wasted time and the benefit of compost in the garden by getting hung up on silly details. Questions like, “Should I use a tumbler, a bin, or just make a pile?” “What should I put into the compost?” “How much time and effort will it take to make decent compost?”
Think about it for awhile. The materials that fall to the forest floor will even break themselves down in time. It doesn’t require any special handling or human effort. Your pile will do the same, if you just get started.
Before I would consider composting, I needed a good reason. There are many reasons to compost.
Composting reduce the quantity of material going to landfills, thereby reducing methane and carbon dioxide production that occurs there.
Compost is a great source of nutrients for your plants. It’s better than raw manure and carries a better range of nutrients than chemical fertilizers.
Experience increased biological activity in your soil which improves nutrient cycling and improves plant health.
Adding compost to your soil helps to hold moisture and reduce runoff.
Compost is free (or at least cheaper to acquire) than chemical fertilizers.
Finally, the reason that compelled me to begin composting:
It’s a heck of a lot easier to throw my yard waste into a pile than it is to haul all of it to the landfill.
But, you need to go to Rod Turner to find a better way to compost. He is the expert on the right way to compost. If you’re interested in making the world’s best compost, get his book, read it, and follow his simple directions for making the finest plant nutrition you can get.
Don't blow your money on useless materials or waste your time with back-breaking labor while trying to grow a healthy garden. You can easily create the mother of all plant nutrition right in your backyard, using less time, energy, or money than you ever imagined was possible.